The University of Regina is pleased to be sending the strongest team in its 5 year history to The CIS National 7s Championship in 2016. The competition has moved to Vancouver this year that way competing athletes can get an opportunity to experience The HSBC World Sevens Series over the weekend at BC Place.
Cougars Head Coach Peni Lutudromu says "It's exciting where this program is at in preparations for the 2016 competition, he feels confident in the build up over the winter months and is proud to be sending the best team to date." Hosting our own prairie wide tournament at the indoor facility in Moose Jaw in late January has helped out our program massively. We went undefeated and won the tournament! Another contributing factor was our recent 2 day camp this past weekend on the outdoor turf at the university thanks to rare spring like conditions in Regina. Traditionally the weather is -16 or worse on the prairies this time of year, and we were blessed with +16 conditions which allowed the team to get some contact in and stretch their legs outdoors.
Its been just over five years when we started working on a partnership with The University of Regina Athletics. Once we got the go ahead to begin training and formalizing a squad to travel to nationals we welcomed several local high school athletes to join our practices in the early days to start building a pathway for the future. To grow the sport in Saskatchewan the university programs for the both the women & men are the most crucial programs in this province. Giving Saskatchewan athletes a chance to compete at the national level while gaining an education is truly a winning combination for both sport and these athletes future.
Universities offer an abundance of athletes, resources in regards to facilities, and most importantly incredibly professional staff that believe in core values of success both on and off the field! Alison Fisher should be highlighted from Faculty of Kinesiology & Health Studies who has dedicated so much time and support to this bright Cougar Program. She organizes every booking for both the women & men, manages their funding, team kit, tournament travel, and is the life blood of this successful rugby pathway in our province. She really goes above and beyond!
Alison said "it's exciting to see such strong numbers competing for spots this season and it reflects with quality of players we have developed over the past 5 years. She is thrilled to have volunteers like Peni Lutu & Robin MacDowell that invest so much time to develop these raw athletes into the high performance rugby players they are today. She also wanted to thank the community sponsors like Liquid Stone, District Brewing Company, Youngs Equipment, Varsity Club Athletics Board, and The Faculty of Kinesiolgy & Health Studies.
The coaching staff has put a lot of emphasis on building that aerobic base, raising the skill set, and playing within the team. We focus on playing "Smart 7s" and letting the ball do the work. Our team culture is there and now we need to turn our 8 months of preparations into results this weekend in Vancouver.
Players to look out for are Marcus Hall (Regina, SK), Wade Lavallee (Regina, SK), and (Dustin Nedohino) (Calgary, AB). Marcus has been in our program since he was in grade 10 at Campbell Collegiate High School. Training with the University Team as part of our pathway to the future is now paying off year five as he is going into his 2nd National Championship for The Cougars. Marcus has 5 years of high level 7s experience in his young career featuring with Select Dog River Howlers Junior sides in The Las Vegas International Tournament twice, and playing for the local Prairie Fire Select Team while only in grade 12. Marcus comes from a strong football family and has all the skill sets to be a class international player in the near future. Speed, skill, vision. Marcus is our playmaker and plays a similar style to a Phil Mack.
Dustin hails from Calgary, Alberta and is going into his 3rd national championship with the Cougars. He has done a lot of work in the off season to prepare himself for the next level. He is by far our fastest and most dangerous player. He has gone from being a strong finishing player to a leader and full package. It is great that we are attracting players outside of Saskatchewan now.
Lastly our Captain and Leader Wade Lavallee. Wade has been in our program at the university since High School as well. He featured with the Cougars 2 years ago before recently spending a year abroad honing his game in New Zealand. He has come back from that opportunity bigger, stronger, faster, and more dynamic on attack. Wade can play either in the centres or forward for the Cougars. He is devastating in the tackle and his tenacity is relentless for the opposition.
We are in a pool with Waterloo, Calgary, and defending champions The University of Victoria. Our goal is to finish in the top 2 day one and go through to Cup Round. The thing about 7s rugby is that anyone can beat anyone on the day.
Lastly we will be honouring our head coach Peni Lutu's home Fijian Club, family and Nacamak Village on The Island Coro by wearing a black band on our jersey. Fijian culture and rugby is engrained in our sport and life. The Cougars will honour them.